Christmas Turkey & Turkey Gravy Recipe

The turkey usually takes center stage at Thanksgiving. These easy recipes for Herb Roasted Turkey and Perfect Turkey Gravy will shine on your Thanksgiving Dinner table. Here are a few turkey tips to really make your turkey shine this Christmas!

Turkey 101

Fresh vs. Frozen

Fresh is best. They taste better, but tend to cost more than their frozen counterpart. We usually use the frozen variety, as I have in the recipes below, but if you decide to go with a fresh turkey this Thanksgiving, it should be purchased 2-3 weeks before Thanksgiving as fresh turkeys tend to sell quickly. I always pick a frozen bird because they go on sale for pennies – like this one we got for $0.69 a pound. If you have room, pick up your turkey as soon as you can for less stress the week of Thanksgiving.

Choosing The Right Size Turkey

Allow 1 1/2 – 2 pound of turkey per adult if you want leftovers.
How To Thaw A Turkey

Thaw your bird on the bottom shelf of your fridge in its original packaging on a rimmed baking sheet. It takes about 24 hours for every 4 pounds of turkey, so plan your time wisely. A 20 pound bird takes about 4-5 days to thaw. In a pinch and need to defrost quickly? It takes about 30 minutes for every pound of turkey in cool water.
All About Brining

Done correctly, a brine turkey can lead to a juicier bird. Just make sure to never brine a kosher turkey since they already come pre-salted. If you want to brine your turkey this Thanksgiving, follow these steps for a juicy and delicious turkey.

Plan ahead. If you’re purchasing a frozen turkey, allow for it to completely defrost before brining.
Use the right salt. Any salt will work, but kosher salt is best. Most brine recipes, like this one below are written for kosher salt. Spend the extra $1 and get kosher.
Follow ratios. This basic brine recipe is a great start for brining your turkey this Thanksgiving. For every 1 cup of salt, add 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 gallon of water.
Season it. Add whatever seasonings you want to your brine to make it your own. Avoid acidic add-ins like apple cider vinegar as they cause your turkey to go mushy.
Choose The Right Pan

Choosing a large pan with a roasting rack allows the air in your oven to evenly circulate around your turkey making for extra crispy skin!

Bring Your Turkey to Room Temperature

Allowing your turkey to rest until it reaches room temperature before you cook it will help your turkey cook quicker, and more evenly.

To Stuff Or Not To Stuff?

A turkey will cook more evenly unstuffed. Consider adding aromatics like onion, garlic, lemon and fresh herbs to the cavity of your bird instead. If you do decide to stuff your turkey, make sure not to stuff too tightly, and secure the neck flap of skin and the legs in place. Make sure to never add stuffing to your turkey after it has started cooking. When you’re ready to pull your bird out of the oven and you’ve checked its temperature, check the temperature of your stuffing. Cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

How To Roast A Turkey

Always roast a turkey on a rack in the middle of the oven. Roast until a thermometer inserted into the thigh of the turkey reaches a165 degrees.
How To Carve A Turkey

Carving a turkey is easy, but something that seems tough. I could write all the steps for you, but this video from Alton Brown is the best explanation on how to perfectly carve your Christmas turkey.

I follow all of these tips when making my Christmas turkey every year. The herb butter that I add to my turkey allows for a crispier skin and this is my favorite way to cook a turkey and make gravy. It’s quick, easy and most of the steps can be prepared ahead of time, allowing for more time to be spent with family instead of in the kitchen, cooking. There are two recipes below, one for the turkey and one for the gravy.

Herb Roasted Turkey

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

Ingredients:

For Herb Butter:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 pkg fresh poultry herbs, stems removed
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

For Turkey:

fresh or completely thawed turkey (12-15 lbs)
1 pkg fresh poultry herbs
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon, quartered
1 onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup homemade chicken broth
1 cup white wine (or an additional cup of chicken broth)

kitchen twine, to tie legs
cheesecloth for fresh herbs, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In the bowl of a food processor, blend herbs with olive oil, salt and pepper until finely chopped. Add butter and lemon juice and zest, and blend until well combined – about 45 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

In the bottom of a roasting pan place fresh herbs (wrapped in cheesecloth if you have it), chicken broth, wine, lemons, garlic and onion. Place in roasting rack and set aside.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

Prepare turkey by removing the pop-up timer, plastic clamp holding the legs together, and then remove all gizzards (usually in a bag), and the neck from the cavity. With kitchen sheers, remove any excess skin, and clean up turkey. Save the gizzards, neck and pieces you cut off for stock. Rinse turkey with cool, slowly running water. Pat dry with paper towels, and place on turkey rack.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

With turkey on roasting rack, carefully place wings behind the breast – like the turkey is lounging on the beach, and use kitchen twine to tie legs together. If you do not have any kitchen twine, cross legs of turkey and place in between roasting rack grooves.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

With a silicone pastry brush, brush a generous amount of herb butter all over the turkey. For a turkey with extra crispy skin, do all of the steps up to this point the night before, and place in the fridge, uncovered.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

Lower temperature of oven to 350 degrees, and place turkey, uncovered on the middle rack of your oven.

Roast turkey for 20 minutes per pound for a frozen turkey and 13 minutes per pound for a fresh turkey. A 12-15 lb turkey should take around 3 to 3 1/2 hours to cook.

Carefully baste turkey every 30-45 minutes with juices at the bottom of the pan. If you notice the skin on your turkey getting too dark, butter one side of a piece of foil, and gently tent over turkey.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

After 3 to 3 1/2 hours, place an instant read thermometer into the thigh of the turkey, and once it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, remove from oven, and let rest. You can probably take it out around 155 degrees as the turkey will continue to cook as it rests.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

Let turkey rest 30 minutes, and transfer to a large cutting board. Let rest another 10 minutes after moving.

While turkey is resting, carefully remove roasting rack, herb sachet, onions, garlic and lemons, and pour pan drippings into a fat separator or pour pan drippings through a fine metal sieve into a large glass or small bowl for gravy.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

Carve turkey, and place on a platter. Alton Brown’s YouTube video is really the best explanation on the best way to carve a turkey. Serve warm with homemade gravy from the drippings and save the leftovers for turkey sandwiches and turkey soup.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

How To Make Perfect Turkey Gravy

Ingredients:

reserved pan drippings from roasted turkey
1 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock, divided
3 tbsp flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Directions:

While turkey is resting, carefully remove roasting rack, herb sachet, onions, garlic and lemons, and pour pan drippings into a fat separator or pour pan drippings through a fine metal sieve into a large glass or small bowl for gravy.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

Warm 1 cup of chicken stock in a small pot or in the microwave, and whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, pour white wine in a pan and bring to a boil. Let boil for 1 minute, and add remaining chicken stock.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

While boiling, carefully whisk in the slurry you made of warmed chicken stock and flour. Whisk until smooth, and turn heat to medium-low. Stir in reserved pan juices (juices only, which is where a fat separator comes in so handy). I even added a couple tablespoons of my mashed potato cooking water to the slurry.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

Let simmer for another 3-5 minutes over low heat constantly whisking to avoid lumps until desired consistency.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

If the gravy is too thick, gently whisk in a little more warmed chicken stock (anything that is too cold can make the gravy separate). If the gravy is too thin, warm a 1/2 cup of chicken stock, and whisk in 1 1/2 tbsp flour. Bring gravy back to a boil and whisk in slurry. Lower heat and let simmer again until thickened.

herb roasted thanksgiving turkey recipe perfect turkey gravy recipe #foolproofthanksgiving 101 how to

Are you one of those people who smother everything with gravy or do you just put it on your turkey and mashed potatoes?

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